Unleash Your Creativity with Todd Henry

If you’ve ever found yourself thinking that creativity is something mystical, reserved exclusively for artists and inventors, then Modern Mentor's conversation with Todd Henry, host of the Accidental Creative podcast, will change your mind and get you into your creative zone today!

Rachel Cooke
4-minute read
Episode #682
The Quick And Dirty

Being truly creative is about understanding what creativity truly is, and what practices and habits help define it. Todd Henry, host of the Accidental Creative podcast, shares just a few of his favorite creativity hacks and habits:

  1. Dedicate time to absorb stimuli
  2. Practice defining problems
  3. Manage your energy

If you’ve ever found yourself thinking that creativity is something mystical, reserved exclusively for artists and inventors, then you’re going to love my conversation with Todd Henry.

Host of the Accidental Creative podcast, and author of four books including his most recent, The Motivation Code, Todd Henry is a sought-after speaker, consultant, and advisor to organizations seeking to enhance their collective creative capability.

In this interview, I had the opportunity to talk to Todd about why creativity is such an essential piece of what everyone does every day and some tangible strategies we can all be using to tap into our most creative selves.

Listen to the full conversation on Apple, Spotify, your favorite podcast platform, or just click play on the audio player above.

So, what is creativity?

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“Creativity is—at the heart of it—is problem-solving,” began Todd. “If you're designing something [a logo, a building, a system], then you're solving a problem…[and] that’s certainly a creative act. Or maybe you have to manage a team of people and you have to develop systems and solve problems every day. That is also a creative act… sometimes we tend to conflate creativity and art. We think that, because I am not artistic, I'm not creative and that's not true… Creativity is problem-solving at the heart of it. So if you have to go to work, you have to solve problems under pressure every day, congratulations, you are a creative professional.”

How can we manufacture creative moments?

Todd effectively “teaches” creativity for a living. He works with leaders and organizations to help them learn and unleash actual practices that ladder up to creative inspiration.

“What I've spent most of my career teaching people…is if you want to be brilliant at a moment's notice, which of course we all want to do, you have to begin far upstream from the moment you need a brilliant idea. You have to build practices into your life to prepare you for those moments when you need that ‘Aha moment.’

Creativity, as Steve Jobs once put it, is simply connecting things. And that’s largely true. You see one thing, you see another thing, you see a connection between them click, [and] suddenly you have a [new] solution because nobody thought to connect those two things. In order to do that, you have to play with ideas. You have to play with concepts. You have to have dots in your head to connect, which means you have to be preparing for those moments by filling your mind with valuable stimuli.”

What are some specific habits or practices we can use?

Todd outlined some of his favorite creative habits and practices that are available to everyone—because everyone is a creative.

1. Dedicate time to absorb stimuli:

Put time on your calendar reserved for reading, studying ideas, watching inspiring things, listening to a broad range of music. These are all things that stimulate different parts of our brain which can trigger new ideas.

2. Practice defining problems:

“If creativity is problem-solving,” explained Todd, “that means we have to define the problems effectively or else we're not going to be able to make progress on them. So do you understand the outcome you're actually trying to solve, or are you trying to do a project? Our minds aren't wired to do projects. Our minds are wired to solve problems. So when you're stuck… step back and ask yourself, ‘am I still solving the same problem?’”

3. Manage your energy:

When we’re not managing our energy, Todd says, “we're not managing our ability to bring emotional labor to our work. So we get to the end of the day… completely fried because we've had no ebb, no flow, no, uh, space, no buffer. It's just been meeting after meeting, after meeting… and we've got nothing left to give. So we have to be really good at pruning… at saying no. Carving out space for ourselves to allow brilliant ideas to emerge because innovation happens in the white space… in the gaps between all of our frantic activity.

All of these tips and insights left me feeling as if creativity had been demystified and democratized. It’s not something that happens only in big lightbulb moments of explosion, and it isn’t reserved for the visionaries. It’s for all of us—and it comes from practice, habits, commitment, and discipline,

There is much more wisdom to be discovered in the book. Listen to our interview for more great insights. Check out the Accidental Creative podcast. And then pick up your copy of The Motivation Code.

About the Author

Rachel Cooke

Rachel Cooke is a leadership and workplace expert who holds her M.A. in Organizational Psychology from Columbia University. Founder of Lead Above Noise, she has been named a top 100 Leadership Speaker by Inc. Magazine and has been featured in Fast Company, The Huffington Post, and many more.